The purpose of any pre-game activity is to get ready to play. The few hours before the game may not seem important to some, but I consider this time a vastly underutilized window of opportunity for players. As many players continue to go on with conventional routines passed down by the ones before them, science has been moving forward. The issue at hand is the different benefits of static and dynamic stretching.
Static stretching is the most common kind of stretching that you see most athletes use at the amateur level. It often is done as a group activity, directly prior to throwing or hitting. Countless studies have been documented that prove static stretching before physical activity reduces muscular strength.
Below we have compiled the most recent information on static stretching from some of the worlds top scientists:
1. New research has shown that static stretching decreases eccentric strength for up to an hour after the stretch. Static stretching has been shown to decrease muscle strength by up to 9% for 60 minutes following the stretch and decrease eccentric strength by 7% followed by a specific hamstring stretch
2. Rosenbaum and Hennig showed that static stretching reduced peak force by 5% and the rate of force production by 8%. This study was about Achilles tendon reflex activity.
3. Gerard van der poel stated that static stretching caused a specific decrease in the specific coordination of explosive movements.
4. Three 15-second stretches of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles reduced the peak vertical velocity of a vertical jump in the majority of subjects
Losing the ability to move explosively is something that would be detrimental in any sport. All eccentric movements are necessary to preform at peak performance during a baseball game. So why then, do players continue to static stretch just moments before taking the field? That I cannot answer, but the real question is what is a better option that would enhance my performance on the field.
The common consensus amongst strength and conditioning coaches is that dynamic stretching is the solution to the problem. Dynamic stretching incorporates game like movements as a way to gently loosen the muscles.
Dynamic should not be confused with ballistic stretches. Ballistic stretches force the part of the body beyond range of by bouncing forwards and back. In dynamic stretching, there is no bounce or jerky movements. The purpose of a dynamic stretch is to improve range of motion while increasing blood flow. The emphasis is on blood flow more than increasing range of motion at this point because we are getting ready to play.
Some of our favorite types of dynamic streches are lunge-twists, toy soldiers, karaoke, and arm cirlcles. These four warmup exercises will leave you prepared compete.
1. Lunge twists are a good drill to fire up the legs and hips. It is the same thing as a normal lunge, but with an added twist at the base of the lunge. The twist is required to activate the hips during this warmup. We love this exercise because of how it warms up the often ignored lower back muscles. The picture below illustrates this motion.
2. Toy Soldiers are another lower body stretch that will loosen up the hamstrings and lower back. The motion is a simple walk forward. The next step is to raise one leg at a time to your maximum range of motion. Remember to keep each leg as straight as possible to get the most out of the stretch. This dynamic stretch should go no further than 90 feet.
3. Karaoke is another hip and lower body warmup. This drill requires foot quickness and rhythm. Start in an athletic base stealing position. Going towards the right, you will bring your left foot in front then behind your right foot as fast as possible. When going left, the opposite occurs. Having a smooth upper body swivel will give your hips greater range of motion with this exercise. Remember that this isn’t a race, stay in control and learn the footwork before trying to go faster.
4. Arm circles target the shoulders & back, and are a simple exercise, but are just as important as the others. Circles should start small and gradually increase. Make the exercise more streneous by adding a small amount of weight (a baseball for example).
Remember that these dynamic stretches are geared for a pre-game warmup for both pitchers and position players.
Send any questions you have to